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Review: The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian

If you've read my blog for long you know that I'm absolutely a Paleo cookbook hoarder. Yep, I love them and want to own every. single. one. out there.

Needless to say I was ecstatic to receive a review copy of The Paleo Slow Cooker by fellow blogger Arsy Vartanian.

What I love about this cookbook:
  • It's a hardback. Silly maybe, but I love that this is a beautiful hardcover cookbook.
  • The Paleo info and tips she weaves throughout the book. From what Paleo is to nutritional info to tips on dining out... I love how much helpful information she includes on top of the amazing recipes.
  • The amazing recipes of course! I love the variety of slow cooker recipes she includes. So much fantastic Paleo food here! There's main dishes, sides, soups, desserts... Some of my favorites so far are the Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Paleo Beef Casserole, Beef Brisket in Espresso Bean BBQ Sauce (I just drooled a little), and Paleo Banana Coconut Foster. There will be no room for boredom with this cookbook.
We're all busy. I realize that the real food approach of Paleo can be a bit challenging to fit into our busy lives. I personally lean on my slow cooker a lot to help out with this. It really is a lifesaver for my busy family. 

This cookbook is an amazing resource for me. I was tending to make the same 3 or 4 recipes in the slow cooker. My family is thankful for the new infusion of delicious Paleo dishes!

I won't beat around the bush: I'm entirely smitten with The Paleo Slow Cooker. (PS if you haven't checked out Arsy's blog you should!) I have some cookbooks that I only make a few recipes out of because the rest really aren't to my family's tastes. Not this one. This is one cookbook I see myself using over and over. Definitely recommend.

Disclaimer: I received this cookbook for review. Post contains affiliate links. As always all opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Review: Cathe Friedrich's XTRAIN Series

A while back I was ecstatic to receive Cathe Friedrich's XTrain Series for review purposes. As always opinions are 100% honest and my own.

The XTrain Workout Series is a total body fitness program that combines heavy weights with intense cardio. If you've read FitViews for long you can already guess this was a match made in heaven for me.

The XTrain Series comes with:
  • 9 or 10 (deluxe set) calorie crushing workouts
  • 142 Premix Workouts
  • 2 Bonus Core Workouts
  • 5 Bonus One Hundred Rep Challenges
  • Bonus Rear Delts Workout
  • Bonus Barre Workout
  • STS Full Color User's Guide packed with four rotations and detailed XTrain workout details.
  • Free XTrain Online Tools and Workout Cards
My unboxing video:

As you can also purchase each DVD and the User's Guide individually I'm going to briefly discuss each item. Each DVD includes a brief introduction, several pre-mixes, and the option to play with or without music. 

Disc 1 Chest, Back and Shoulders
Equipment needed: Dumbbells, Stability Ball, Resistance Tubing.
Bonuses: Core #1.
100 Rep Challenges: Lateral Raises.
This workout is an upper body strength training workout with little rest between moves. You will do 8 rounds of: 1 set chest, 1 set back, 1 set shoulders with new exercises for each round (no repeating moves here).

Disc 2 Bi's and Tri's
Equipment needed: Dumbbells, Stability Ball, Resistance Tubing.
Bonuses: Core #1 and Core #2.
100 Rep Challenges: Bicep Curls and Flat Bench Tricep Extensions.
This workout is an intense upper body strength workout focusing on biceps and triceps. You will do 9 rounds of 1 set biceps, 1 set triceps. Again, different exercise for every round. 

Disc 3 Burn Sets
Equipment needed: Dumbbells, Bench or Step with Five Risers per Side, Incline Bench or Step with Two Risers on Front and Five Risers on the Back, Firewalker Loop, Resistance Tubing. 
Bonuses: Core #1.
This workout includes two upper body workouts. Chest, Back, & Shoulders and Bi's & Tri's. You will work each muscle group with 3 sets of 3 exercises (the final set a burn set to failure) and then move on to the next muscle group.

Disc 4 Super Cuts
Equipment needed: Dumbbells, Slide N Glide Discs, Dixie Cups, Firewalker Loop, Resistance Tubing.
Bonuses: Core #1 and Core #2.
100 Rep Challenges: Hip Thrusts.
Super Cuts is low impact metabolic circuit workout. This is on of my favorite discs. A little taste:

Disc 5 Legs
Equipment needed: Dumbbells, Stability Ball, Slide N Glide Discs, Dixie Cups, Firewalker Loop, Chair.
Bonuses: Rear Delts and Barre.
100 Rep Challenges: Hip Thrusts.
This workout is a mix of standing leg work, stability ball work, barre, and floorwork.

Disc 6 Cardio Leg Blast
Equipment needed: Dumbbells, Step with Three Risers per Side, Dixie Cups, Firewalker Loop.
Bonuses: Core #2 and Burn Set Bi's.
100 Rep Challenges: Hipe Thrusts, Scarecrows.
Cardio Leg Blast mixes cardio, such as plyo moves, and strength moves using moderate (not heavy as in the other strength workouts) weights.

Disc 7 All out Low Impact HIIT
Equipment needed: Dumbbells, Step, Slide N Glide Discs.
Bonuses: Core #1, Burn Set Chest, and Burn Set Shoulders.
100 Rep Challenges: Scarecrows.
This workout is a High Intensity Interval Training workout that Cathe manages to still keep low impact.

Disc 8 Hard Strikes
Equipment needed: Dumbbells, Optional Boxing Gloves.
Bonuses: Core #1, Burn Set Tri's, and Heavy Bag.
100 Rep Challenges: Bicep Curls.
Hard Strikes is a boxing infused cardio workout.

Disc 9 Tabatacise
Equipment needed: Step with Two Risers per Side.
Bonuses: Core #1, Core #2, and Burn Set Back.
100 Rep Challenges: Flat Bench Tricep Extensions and Bicep Curls.
Tabatacise is an intense tabata workout that lets you work up from level 1 to level 5. Another one of my favorite discs, this workout is no. joke.

Disc 10 (Spin workout available with the deluxe set, I did not receive this DVD) Ride

XTRAIN User's Guide
This guide is jam packed with useful info. It includes several different calendars (from 30 days to 90 days) for workout XTrain workout rotations, discussion on the science behind Xtrain (undulating calendars, HIIT, Tabata, heavy lifting, etc), detailed info on every DVD and the exercises in each, finding the right weight to use including a one rep max chart and testing, nutritional info, and more. 

What I loved most about XTrain:
  1. Variety. XTrain is all about variety. Variety in the types of workouts included, variety in the exercises you do in the workouts, variety in the workout calendars included, variety of premixes... So much variety. I love it. I'm not sure I could ever get bored here.
  2. Intensity. Cathe is definitely not playing around here. This is a tough workout set. Which of course I love. From lifting heavy to tabata to HIIT to plyo this set is intense start to finish. Expect to work and expect to have some sore muscles. All good things...right?!
  3. Seperate Cardio and Weights. I don't mind working in circuits, but I feel like that has become such a trend in at-home workouts that it can get old. I really like that most of the workouts in this set separate the cardio  and the strength. I love being able to focus strictly on lifting or strictly on cardio.
  4. Online Tools. The online tools available at are very cool. There's calendars, workout rotations, tracking, a one rep max calculator, and so much more. I love that all of this is available to enhance the XTrain set.
I do want to note that XTrain is definitely not for beginners. It is more of an intermediate to advanced workout. Also, it does require a little more equipment than some workout sets. However, I think if you're serious about working out at home it's all definitely worth it. As someone who strictly works out at home I already had most of it. I also found that I could work around what I did not have, such as boxing gloves.

I get a lot of emails with people who have finished Body Revolution, ChaLEAN Extreme, etc and are looking for what to do next to kick it up a notch. I would absolutely recommend XTrain for this (or to anyone looking to take their fitness and their results up a notch). 

I plan to blog my way through either a 30 day or 90 day calendar sometime post-baby. I can't wait to share my results!

Final Answer:
I've never given a workout system 5 stars before, but I wholeheartedly bestow 5 stars on Cathe's XTrain. This set rocks. Period.

May's #PaleoChat - What Does Paleo Look Like in Real Life?

I can't believe it's already time for May's #PaleoChat! This month's chat will be Wednesday May 1st at 9 PM Eastern time.

We'll be chatting about what Paleo looks like in our lives. 

To me Paleo (or Primal) eating is more of a spectrum than an absolute. Sure, there's strict Paleo a la Robb Wolf's first 30 days or Whole30, but not many of us live that way day in and day out (although some do and that's great too).

While there are those out there that play the Paleo police and insist strict Paleo or nothing, I know that most of us fall somewhere along the Paleo spectrum. Most people I know that "do Paleo" take the framework of Paleo and fit it into their lives. Some do a little dairy, some do 80/20, some believe in cheat meals, and so on. I think supporting and encouraging each other to find what works is so much more important than preaching or policing some standard.

What does Paleo look like in real life? Come share!

Benefits of a Paleo Pregnancy

In my third trimester I find myself looking back at this pregnancy and marveling at the difference I see between this and my previous pregnancies. I had assumed Paleo would make a difference, but I'm a little shocked at how much of a difference I've seen.

Benefits I've seen with my Paleo pregnancy:

Excellent nutrition. I've tracked my nutrients throughout most of my pregnancy and I've been amazed at just how great my nutrition is without really even trying (other than just sticking to Paleo). My daily values are at or above recommended daily values consistently (before any supplements). 

People have asked if I feel deprived. With eats like this?

Nope, haven't felt deprived!

Less moody. Now, I still get sappy at the silliest things, but I'm not near as moody/emotional as I was in my previous three pregnancies. I was downright... grouchy. My husband has even remarked at how much more like myself I seem this pregnancy (pretty sure that was his nice way of saying I wasn't acting like a whacked out pregnant lady a la my previous 3 pregnancies).

Less weight gain. Weight gain was a huge issue for me in previous pregnancies. I gained about 80 pounds with my youngest son. Now, my body is prone to this. Heck, it likes to pack on the pounds when I'm not pregnant; I like to say I'm a very efficient calorie converter. When I am pregnant it seems to go into high gear wanting to store every calorie. That's just how my body is and I've made peace with it this pregnancy. BUT I've gained about 40 pounds so far and am guessing I will wind up with a 45-48 pound total weight gain. I'm pleased with that in comparison to past gains.

Just so there's no delusions of a crossfit babe with just a bump here:
Sorry for the weird-no-head-selfie, but we're under construction and took down the only full length mirror in the house to paint.
No gas or heartburn. None. I definitely had issues with these before and am grateful Paleo has dealt with those issues so far...knock on wood.

Better skin. My skin is terrible when I'm pregnant. From acne to discolorations it's just a mess. It's not perfect peaches and cream this time either, but it's SO much better.

Less bloating/water retention. I had so much water weight in past pregnancies it was miserable. I had to buy bigger shoes, my rings wouldn't fit, cankles were an understatement, and my face... I was just a puffy mess. This pregnancy I've only had minimal bloating in my feet and ankles if I wasn't active enough that day. It's bliss.

Amazing blood sugar. I struggled with blood sugar issues and even gestational diabetes in past pregnancies. This pregnancy I tested my blood sugar for a week because I was curious where it was. It's amazingly stable. Woo!

Of course most importantly I think choosing Paleo will result in the best outcome for the health and well being of my little one!

Disclaimer: these are my personal opinions. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or any type of health professional.

From Dreaming of Boston to Praying for Boston

Image Credit
I had a review post scheduled for today, but pulled it. After yesterday's events at The Boston Marathon I wanted to share my heart.

Like many of my running peers I have the goal of qualifying for Boston. 

In July of 2011 I participated in Jack Sh*t's W.I.D.T.H. series. He asked us to answer on a note card why we were on this healthy living/weight loss journey. I had many reasons: my health, my family... but I chose instead to answer with a goal:

I chose that response because to me that goal embodies the amazing transformation my mind, body, and attitude have underwent on this amazing healthy living/weight loss journey. Even having that goal shows how far I've come and what it's all about for me. This me:

...was barely aware of the Boston Marathon and would have thought it impossible. I didn't set goals, I didn't believe in myself enough. 

But now I hope to check Boston off my bucket list some day. I believe it's possible. I believe in me.

The marathon tends to be the 'I did it' race, and Boston like no other. Boston seems to embody the runner spirit. It stands for all the hard work, time, determination, and belief in ourselves that goes into running such a race.

My heart is heavy that someone chose to cause harm to the amazing people involved with this iconic race. 

There's no sense to be made of this. It's wrong. It's evil. It makes me feel powerless.

However, I refuse to believe we are ever truly powerless. So, I choose to focus on what I CAN do. I can pray for all touched by this. I can raise my children to be positive, good, loving people. And I can keep Boston on my bucket list.

What can you do?

April's #PaleoChat: Paleo For Fat Loss

This month's #PaleoChat will be Wednesday April 3rd at 9 PM Eastern. We'll be chatting about Paleo for fat loss. 

There will be structured questions coming from me, but I'd also like to try a bit more of an open format this time. Have questions about paleo for fat loss? Feel free to ask them of the group. Need help troubleshooting Paleo specifically for fat loss? #PaleoChat is a wonderfully helpful group! Have tips, personal stories, etc related to Paleo for fat loss? Please share!

Hope to see you there!